April 22, 2013
Many of us would expect the study floor of a library to be the last place one would gather a meeting of exuberant supporters, but last Wednesday, the Gerald R. Sherratt library on the SUU campus played host to just such a crowd. A varied group gathered outside the office doors of MPI to take part in the official grand opening of the institute. In attendance were all the SUU officials one would expect, including President Michael T. Benson and Provost Brad Cook, as well as many friends, family members, supporters and colleagues of both Betty McDonald, the institute’s namesake and Johnny Oh, the Director of the institute. Members of the Shakespearean Board of Administrators – with which McDonald has been deeply involved over the years - mingled with reporters, library staff and the vice-presidents of various other on-campus entities.
MPI took on Betty’s name to pay homage to her and the work she did, Oh says. It was wonderful to have so many of the people her life has touched in attendance. Indeed, the ribbon-cutting speeches, given by Director Oh, Provost Cook, President Benson and long-time friend of McDonald, Rich Wilson, touched repeatedly on McDonald’s lifelong achievements and dedication to medical service across Southern Utah and Nevada. When McDonald herself took the stage however, her focus was on her gratitude to the people who have supported and believed in her over the years. In particular, she pointed out her siblings gathered in the crowd of supporters and gave thanks to the fact that they were all still in good health and living nearby. McDonald’s love of others and desire to make raise the quality of people’s lives are part of what makes her a fitting namesake for an institute whose focus is to help international medical students achieve their dreams.
When the time came for the actual ribbon cutting, McDonald and President Benson jointly hoisted the enormous scissors and, to momentous applause seldom allowed in a library setting, clipped the ribbon that would officially designate MPI as a fully-operational campus entity. “It was a historical day for us,” Oh smiles. “It’s been a long time coming.” Although MPI has been operating for a while, it has taken months of waiting for approval from the various administrative bodies of the university and state for it to become an integrated part of the university.
In the following open house, the crowd toured the rooms of MPI, and chatted with each other about their opinions of the place. They stopped to examine the MPI website displayed on the computers and to read the mission and vision statements on the wall. Oh found himself showered with compliments about MPI. “I think people really appreciate what this institute means for the campus and the students,” he said. For the people who have been involved in the formation of the institute, the compliments are judged as being very well deserved. As President Cook noted to the group, MPI is “the only [institute] we know of in the country that is very specially focused on international pre-med students.”
As the guests slowly dispersed, they left behind them the feeling of optimism and excitement that has come to represent MPI. “Our focus here is to do things that might otherwise seem impossible,” Oh states as he straightens up the room afterwards. “I think these people felt it. They’ve caught the vision.”
by David Cowley